Legislature's Budget Committee Approves Significant Hospital and Physician Reimbursement Increases

June 11, 2019

The state Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee enacted key WHA budget priorities for hospitals and the health care workforce during a meeting on June 4. Among policies supported by the Committee, lawmakers approved a WHA-advocated $148 million increase in Medicaid reimbursement for hospitals over the 2019-21 biennium through the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program and another $10 million increase for the state’s rural hospitals via the Rural Critical Care supplement program. The Committee also approved a nearly $25 million increase in physician and behavioral health Medicaid reimbursement increases.

“Over three months ago, WHA applauded the health care budget introduced by Governor Evers, and we are pleased to now recognize the Joint Committee on Finance for its work, including approving substantial Medicaid reimbursement increases for hospitals and physicians,” said WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding. “As happens in state budgets, the Committee dialed up some of the Governor’s reimbursement proposals, matched, or dialed down others. But all told, this budget started and remains positive for health care.”

Lawmakers also approved several other elements of Governor Evers’ budget proposal which were supported and lobbied on by WHA. These items included changes to Wisconsin’s Graduate Medical Education (GME) grant program, such as eliminating specialty limitations, and reforming Wisconsin’s Medicaid statutes to allow for real-time provider-to-provider telehealth consultations, as well as remote patient monitoring.

As noted above, the Committee approved reimbursement increases for physicians and behavioral health services, but these would require approval by the Joint Finance Committee based on a plan to be developed by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS). If ultimately passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Evers, WHA will continue to engage with DHS to ensure the plan put forward by the Department provides resources to increase access to behavioral health care for Medicaid enrollees served in Wisconsin hospitals and health systems.

“Governor Evers got the ball rolling with one of the strongest health care budgets we’ve seen in many years, and as it stands after the Joint Finance Committee’s actions, it remains a strong health care budget. It’s not everything everyone wanted, including WHA, but all-in-all, a positive health care budget that will expand access to care and reduce cost-shifting—both bipartisan aims. It may seem counterintuitive in this political climate, but I actually believe this health care budget contains very positive investments for which both the Governor and the Legislature should be lauded.”

The Legislature’s budget bill needs to be approved by both the full Senate and Assembly before heading to the Governor’s desk for partial or full vetoes. The budget committee is reportedly targeting the end of next week to wrap up its work, with plans to pass a budget bill through the Assembly and the Senate by the end of June.

This story originally appeared in the June 11, 2019 edition of WHA Newsletter